Document Type


Publication Date



In Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed Roe v. Wade's limits on a state's ability to restrict, and indeed completely outlaw, abortion. The case raises fundamentally important questions about rights to reproductive autonomy, bodily integrity, sex equality, privacy, and health.

Upon closer examination, Dobbs is also about race and the nation's racial history, as the two papers published here argue. In Dreding Dobbs, Professor Katherine Franke suggests that Dobbs should be read alongside the Supreme Court's 1857 decision in Dred Scott v. Sandford, in which the Court held that Black people-even free or freed Black people were not U.S. citizens. Franke reasons that Dred Scott did for white supremacy-defining the United States as a white nation-what Dobbs does for patriarchy- masculinizing the Constitution as a compact among men. In fact, Franke argues, Dred Scott and Dobbs are both cases about reproductive justice in the shadow of slavery.

In What "Every One Knows" About Dobbs-and Plessy, Ria Tabacco Mar draws important connections between Dobbs and the Supreme Court's 1896 decision in Plessy v. Ferguson, the case in which the Court found that racial segregation of Black Americans did not violate the Fourteenth Amendment's Equal Protection Clause. In both Plessy and Dobbs, Tabacco Mar argues, the Court responds to constitutional injuries with trivializing and patronizing rejoinders that deny our lived experience.

We publish these two papers here because, when read together, they offer new and fundamentally important insights about the meaning of Dobbs and how the legacies of slavery and the power of white supremacy haunt constitutional litigation even in cases that do not seem to be "about race."


Civil Rights and Discrimination | Law | Legal History

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.